Carnivorans at the Great American Biotic Interchange: new discoveries from the northern neotropics

Abstract

We report two fossil procyonids, Cyonasua sp. and Chapalmalania sp., from the late Pliocene of Venezuela (Vergel Member, San Gregorio Formation) and Colombia (Ware Formation), respectively. The occurrence of these pre-Holocene procyonids outside Argentina and in the north of South America provides further information about the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). The new specimens are recognized in the same monophyletic group as procyonids found in the southern part of the continent, the “Cyonasua group,” formed by species of Cyonasua and Chapalmalania. The phylogenetic analysis that includes the two new findings support the view that procyonids dispersed from North America in two separate events (initially, previous to the first major migration wave—GABI 1—and then within the last major migration wave—GABI 4—). This involved reciprocal lineage migrations from North to South America, and included the evolution of South American endemic forms.

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Acknowledgments

We gratefully thank Francisco Prevosti, Adriana Candela, and Agustin Martinelli for helpful comments and discussions, two anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions to improve the manuscript, Jorge D. Carrillo-Briceño for support in the field and in the lab, Andres Cárdenas for producing the fossil and extant distribution maps, Torsten Scheyer for technical help, Simon Kay for assistance in revising the English text, Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural of the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and the Alcaldía del Municipio Urumaco for support during this research, coworkers of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute that participated in the field trip, and the Wayuú Community for access to their lands and support during the field work. The Swiss National Fund SNF 31003A-149605, PICT 2011–0309, Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, The Anders Foundation, Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Johnson, Universidad del Norte, and NSF EAR 0957679 help to support this work. We acknowledge having used the Willi Hennig Society edition of TNT.

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Forasiepi, A.M., Soibelzon, L.H., Gomez, C.S. et al. Carnivorans at the Great American Biotic Interchange: new discoveries from the northern neotropics. Naturwissenschaften 101, 965–974 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-014-1237-4

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Keywords

  • Procyonidae
  • South America
  • Neotropics
  • Pliocene